Whether in your own yard or in a designated area known to have a variety of birds, birding is a perfect way to get outside no matter the season.

Over the last few years, I’ve become a bit of a bird nut. The feeders in our yard bring a variety of birds, and you can often find me snapping photos of these fine feathered friends. Every now and then, I seek out other birding areas to broaden my photo collection. A recent Google search took me to a beautiful birding location in Cheminus that also happens to be part of the BC Bird Trail.

A winter scene at Chemainus River Estuary

Birding Location in Chemainus

The Chemainus River Estuary provides a short 2.7-kilometre trail that winds through natural fauna and happens to be a resting spot for migratory birds. The trailhead starts at the end of Swallowfield Road and heads toward the ocean where the estuary lies.

You walk alongside farmers’ fields and creeks, and through bogs and marshes. During the spring, expect to see wild yellow irises in these bogs. During the summer, blackberries are plentiful! The trail tends to be quite muddy, especially during the wetter months.

The estuary itself is not fully accessible, as there are no trails that go beyond a certain point. However, once you reach the end, you can explore the river banks and the surrounding areas.

An immature Golden-Crowned Sparrow seen at the Chemainus River Estuary

What to Expect

As we were there during the winter, most of the smaller songbirds were hanging out in the rosehip bushes along the bank. We also saw a large flock of swans, Canadian geese, a Downy Woodpecker, squirrels, and a few Mallards.

Each season brings different birds to the area, so no matter when you go, you will most likely see something you didn’t before. For a full list of birds that you may see while on this trail, check out eBird.

We saw a few people walking their dogs in the area, and all were respectful of us birders and kept the dogs on leashes. If you want to bring your dog, please do the same!

We walked this trail mid-week and only ran into maybe a handful of people. However, rumour has it this area can get quite busy on the weekends. So plan accordingly.

Don’t forget the binoculars!

Chemainus River Estuary
Chemainus River Estuary

BC Bird Trail

The BC Bird Trail connects several communities across British Columbia, through a network of regional trails and iconic points of interest. The website and app provide free self-guided itineraries exploring several key birding areas across the province. The new app helps track your birding progress and gives you points and badges along the way. Both the website and app also offer recommendations to nearby local attractions, restaurants, and places to stay.

BC is a great spot for birding as the province has noted over 500 different species of birds that breed in the province, and 76% of Canada’s bird species are found in BC!

Vancouver Island has four key areas the BC Bird Trail focuses on and each area offers its own itinerary.

Central Vancouver Island is home to diverse habitats and includes a wide variety of birding hot spots. Visiting the BC Bird Trail website (or app) will give you three separate itineraries for this regional area: Cowichan, Nanaimo & Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Langford is the newest community to join the BC Bird Trail and is considered a Bird Trail Outpost. The focus of this itinerary is on Langford Lake, Glen Lake, and Florence Lake. These lakes are home to a wide variety of waterfowl throughout the year.

If you aren’t on Vancouver Island, and/or are exploring other areas of BC, make sure to check out the BC Bird Trail app or website to find other great birding locations.

So tell me, have you been to this birding location in Chemainus? How about any of the other locations mentioned via the BC Bird Trail? Which location is your favourite spot to see a variety of birds? Let me know in the comment section below.

Great Birding Areas in Parksville

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